Posts tagged ‘philanthropy’

May 3, 2021

Simone Joyaux, Passionate Fundraiser and Energetic Agitator for Good, has Died

There is no easy way to say it. Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, CPP died Sunday, May 2, following a devastating stroke on April 29. Simone, 72, had been diagnosed 14 months prior with cerebral amyloid angiopathy. She is survived by Tom Ahern, her life partner (her preferred term for her husband since 1984).

Simone once observed:

Colleagues around the world describe me as one of the nonprofit sector’s most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders. I’m proud of that description. I see myself as a change agent, an agitator. Whether it’s asking essential cage-rattling questions … or proposing novel approaches … or advocating for change … that’s me.”

Known internationally, Simone was a fundraising and nonprofit management consultant, coach, teacher, and author. She was a volunteer for professional and civic organizations. She was a force for philanthropy, a social justice warrior, and an agitator for the changes she believed would make the world just that much better. She was a philanthropist. Even in death, she continues, quite literally, to give of herself with the donation of her organs.

In her book, Strategic Fund Development, Simone wrote:

Longing to belong. Isn’t that part of human nature? Afraid of being forgotten. Isn’t that part of being human, too? Through relationships with others, we belong. Through commitment to community, we won’t be forgotten.”

No, Simone won’t be forgotten anytime soon. She touched the lives of thousands of people around the world. You can visit Caring Bridge to read how others remember Simone. You can also share your own memories.

Simone P. Joyaux (1949-2021)

I’ve known Simone for decades, though I regret not as well as I would have liked. There always seems to be time, until there is not. I first met her following one of her classic kick-ass presentations. We chatted for a bit. I was particularly struck by how such a provocateur could also be charming, humble, and warm.

Over the years, we found many points on which we agreed. There were also points on which we did not agree. However, our exchanges were always respectful, even friendly. Even when we disagreed, she always made me think and reconsider, though not always change, my position.

Recently, Simone and I had become classmates. We both enrolled in the inaugural class of the Philanthropic Psychology course offered by the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy. During our studies, we had a chance to engage in deep, meaningful conversations. She generously shared her insights and wisdom. All of us who took the course benefitted greatly from her participation.

One of the things that always tickled me about Simone was her passionate, fiery delivery, whether orally or in print. Her constructive rants were always something to behold. I loved when they would end with “and … and … and.” I often wondered what her next thought was following the suspended “and.” Or, maybe she wanted us to fill in what came after that last “and.”

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March 9, 2021

Shocking Fundraising Behavior from Nonprofits Captures Media Attention

Nonprofit hospitals across the country have made disturbing news headlines recently. Sadly, while medical staff continue to provide heroic patient care, many of the recent news stories deal with unethical fundraising behavior that puts all nonprofits at risk. Consider these two items:

  • Hospitals across the country have given major donors special, early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In a story unrelated to the coronavirus, one hospital fundraising office has offered medical staff bonuses for referring “Grateful Patient” prospects.

While those news items involve healthcare organizations, all charities should be concerned. Let me explain. When some nonprofits behave badly, it reflects on the entire nonprofit sector with the potential to erode public trust and, therefore, support. There is ample research, as well as anecdotal evidence, that reveals that the fundraising efforts of virtuous charities can be harmed by the unethical behavior of unrelated nonprofit organizations.

Let’s look more closely at what has occurred recently:

MAJOR DONORS GIVEN EARLY ACCESS TO VACCINE

Initial excitement over the release of COVID-19 vaccines has given way to frustration as only 18 percent of the US population has received the first dose with confusing sign-up procedures and long lines greeting many people.

“But one group has gotten a head start in receiving the coveted shots: people who’ve donated money to hospitals distributing the vaccine,” according to a report in MarketWatch.

Ethical_Decision_Making_Article.28164930 AFP statement major donor vaccinations Feb 2021 final AFP Statement Grateful Patient Fundraising March 2021 final

According to reports, hospitals across the nation have been giving favorable treatment to major donors including Storment Vail Health (Kansas), Overlake Medical Center (Washington), Hunterdon Medical Center (New Jersey), MaineGeneral Health (Maine), and Garnet Health (New York).

Authorities in New York have launched a probe into Garnet’s actions to determine if any laws were broken. While evaluating whether or not laws were broken, it is important for us to also consider whether the actions of Garnet and other hospitals are ethical or unethical.

“As we see numerous reports of line jumping and favoritism, any situation that could lead to distrust in the fairness of the vaccine allocation process needs to be proactively managed. Redeploying staff to help with vaccination is reasonable, but care should have been taken to avoid [MaineGeneral Health] fundraising staff connecting with prior donors on this,” Holly Fernandez Lynch, an ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told the Bangor Daily News.

The Bangor Daily News added, “Medical ethicists said there were many good reasons for MaineGeneral and other hospitals to test processes before opening wider clinics, but even well-intended efforts involving philanthropy staff and donors can be seen negatively.”

Medical ethicists weren’t the only ones to weigh-in on the situation. The Association of Fundraising Professionals, the largest community of charities and fundraisers in the world, has released the following statement from President and CEO Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA:

The idea of hospital systems, or any charity, ignoring protocols, guidance or restrictions—regardless of origin—and offering certain donors and board members the opportunity to ‘skip the line’ and receive vaccinations ahead of their scheduled time is antithetical to the values of philanthropy and ethical fundraising….[emphasis added]

Offering vaccinations to major donors, and not to populations with the greatest need … destroys public trust—to say nothing of the possible impact on constituents of the charity who don’t receive the appropriate vaccinations or medical attention in time.…

AFP, and the 26,000 members in our community around the world who represent nearly every charitable cause imaginable, condemn this activity in the strongest manner possible. It is unethical and inequitable, and we call on all health systems and all providers of vaccinations to deliver this service in a manner that is fair and equitable for the people they serve and consistent with procedures developed by the Centers for Disease Control and all applicable levels of government.”

Some hospitals around the country have behaved unethically, violated the law, or both. However, even those who may have a legitimate explanation for their actions and who have done nothing wrong may still be giving the appearance of having done something unethical involving their interactions with major donors. That’s still a big problem. As the AFP Code of Ethical Standards states clearly:

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January 20, 2021

How Can You “Vaccinate” Your Nonprofit for Good Financial Health?

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has caused death and economic destruction around the world. The nonprofit sector has not been immune from the ravages of COVID-19.

While some charities have held their own when it comes to fundraising, or have even managed an uptick, others have experienced a downturn. If the economy doesn’t fully recover, and quickly, all organizations may find fundraising more difficult in the months and years ahead. With a corresponding drop in earned income, the financial health of charities is in danger.

Richard Radcliffe is the Founder of Radcliffe Consulting based in the UK. He recently wrote a passionate article explaining how charities can ensure their financial health and security in the years ahead. Because he is kind and cares deeply about the wellbeing of the third sector, Richard has given me permission to share his wisdom with you:

 

Legacies are the “vaccine” for good, long-term financial health for your nonprofit organization.

Legacies are a security blanket, a treasure trove to dip into to GROW or to protect your charity in times of emergency.

Individual giving does not build reserves.

Trusts and Foundations give for projects.

Statutory funding is project or service-based.

Corporate funds are largely restricted or for dual interest.

What is there NOT to like about legacies? The answer is simple: It is wanting money NOW – rather like a baby screaming to be fed NOW.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” But legacies are not gained today or tomorrow. And bad leaders only think of today whilst in their seats of power.

Investing in legacies is like dieting: “Great idea but let’s leave it for another day.” And then a pandemic hits and all hell breaks out. Furloughed staff, redundancies, reduction in services.

Good leaders are visionaries who plan to fulfill their charity’s vision and mission AFTER their own lifetime as leaders.

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January 18, 2021

What is Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent Question?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a remarkable, historic civil rights leader whose wisdom and mission remain relevant in the 21st century.

I am writing this post during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, a national holiday in the United States. This occasion reminds me of when I first learned about King. I was a first-grade student when King was murdered on April 4, 1968. Until then, I had never heard of him.

When my elementary school closed for a day of mourning in King’s honor, my mother explained to me who King was, why he was important, and that he had been assassinated. Mom also had to explain to me what the word “assassination” means. Even at six-years-old, I recognized the horrific irony of killing a man who advocated non-violence, and I wept.

In 2015, the kind folks at the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Memphis Chapter invited me to speak at their conference. My hosts were gracious, and they took wonderful care of me. Knowing my interest in King, they even provided me with a ticket to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel during my extended stay. The site is where King was killed. Stepping into King’s motel room was moving. Touring the Museum was eye-opening, even for someone knowledgeable about the civil rights movement. I encourage you to visit Memphis and the Museum.

As I’ve said, King remains relevant after more than a half-century following his death. Consider this quote from King:

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

It’s a great question. It’s one that those of us working in the nonprofit sector answer every day. It’s one that every person who engages in philanthropy answers with their actions.

If you can respond to King’s question in a meaningful way, you should feel proud. It may not always feel like it, but you are making a difference. You are living a life worth living. As King said:

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December 29, 2020

What You Need to Know that You Might Have Missed

During the year-end holiday period, I usually find it a good time to reflect back on the previous 12 months and think ahead to the new year. With the wild ride that has been 2020, I’m enjoying the moment to catch my breath. I hope you’re able to do the same.

As I look back over 2020, I thought I would take a bit of time to share with you some items you might have missed during your busy, crazy year.

My Top Blog Posts:

First, because I recognize that you can’t read everything that crosses your desk, I’ve put together a list of my top ten most-read posts published in 2020, in case you’ve missed any of them:

Legacy Fundraising: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?

How will Coronavirus Affect Your Fundraising Efforts?

What Can You Learn from “The Naked Philanthropist”?

New Charitable Giving Incentives in CARES Act

Listen to The Whiny Donor and Raise More Money

Coronavirus: 20 Survival Tips for You and Your Charity

10 Fundraising Strategies for Complex & Major Gifts During COVID-19

Is the AFP International Conference in Jeopardy?

Warning Signs You Need to Know About

Amy Coney Barrett Knows Something You Need to Know

Now, I want to give you a list of five of my older posts that remained popular in 2020:

Can a Nonprofit Return a Donor’s Gift?

Can You Spot a Child Molester? Discover the Warning Signs

Here is One Word You Should Stop Using

Get More Repeat Gifts: The Rule of 7 Thank Yous

We All We Got. We All We Need.

I invite you to read any posts that might interest you by clicking on the title above. You can also search this blog by topic using the site’s search function (either in the right column or below).

Blog Site Recognition:

Over the years, I’ve been honored to have my blog recognized by respected peers. I’m pleased that, among the thousands of nonprofit and fundraising sites, my blog continues to be ranked as a “Top 75 Fundraising Blog” – Feedspot, “Top Fundraising Blogs 2020” – Garecht Fundraising Associates, “Best Fundraising Blogs for 2020” – Future Fundraising Now.

To make sure you don’t miss any of my future posts, please take a moment to subscribe to this site for free in the designated spot in the column to the right (or, on mobile platforms, below). You can subscribe with peace of mind knowing that I will respect your privacy. As a special bonus for you as a new subscriber, I’ll send you a link to a free e-book from philanthropy researcher Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP®.

Special Projects:

In 2020, I was honored to have the opportunity to participate in four special projects:

White Paper with Dr. Russell James: “Legacy Fundraising: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?” (FREE)

Article for SEI Knowledge Center: “Charitable Giving 2020: COVID-19 and Politics Make a Play” (FREE)

White Paper with Rogaré: “Ethics of Legacy Fundraising During Emergencies” (FREE)

Article for the Association of Fundraising Professionals: “A Flight Attendant’s Advice Leads to Soaring Personal Success” (members only)

Best-selling Book — Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

This year was also another good year for my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. The book continues to be a highly-rated Amazon bestseller. Winner of the AFP/Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy and listed on the official CFRE International Resource Reading List, it continues to be a relevant resource for fundraisers who want to start or grow a successful planned giving program.

A LinkedIn Discussion Group for You:

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December 16, 2020

Should Charity Begin in the Office with Employee Giving?

Should employees donate to the nonprofit organization they work for? Should they be asked, or even required, to give? Should employees never be asked to give?

Over the decades, I’ve had a number of clients ask me about the issue of employee giving. Over the years, my feelings about employee giving have flip-flopped any number of times. On the one hand, I’ve considered it a good idea to express one’s support for the organization before asking someone else to give. On the other hand, I’ve also recognized that nonprofit employees are frequently paid far less than they should be and often work many uncompensated overtime hours.

It’s a complicated issue.

Fortunately, there is now a new e-book that closely explores the subject of employee giving. Employee Giving: Does Charity Begin in the Office? is a free e-book by Ephraim Gopin, founder of 1832 Communications, an agency helping nonprofits raise more money through strategic and smart marketing and communications.

As part of the e-book project, Ephraim conducted a survey of nonprofit employees and consultants so he could explore all sides of a very contentious and complicated topic. The result is an e-book that will help you learn about:

  • Employee giving: The case for yes, the case for no, and why it’s complicated
  • Attitudes about Board and C-level giving
  • How employees working overtime affects giving
  • Can employee giving help when asking donors to give
  • And much more!

Learn from the survey data and over 30 sector experts. Whether you’re in the “oh hell no!” or the “let employees enjoy being a donor!” camp, this e-book will open your eyes to both sides of the issue. Reading the e-book might just change your mind. You can download your free copy by clicking here.

The topic of nonprofit employee giving doesn’t get much attention. So, I was intrigued when I saw Ephraim had written his e-book. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions related to the project. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What workplace ask have you experienced that stuck with you, good or bad?

Here’s how I open my introduction to the e-book: “The honest truth? I never gave. Even when I was a CEO.”

No one ever asked me and I never asked my employees when I was CEO. (It could be cultural as where I live it is definitely not the norm to ask employees to donate.) For me it would have been double-dipping: “I give way more hours to the organization than what’s stipulated in my contract. Now you also want to take a portion of my salary check away?!”

In the survey, I asked how much overtime (unpaid time) employees work in an average month. 41 percent of survey respondents said they work 11+ hours of overtime each month. That’s A LOT!

So, you’re overworked and underpaid, certainly in comparison to the for-profit sector. How would you feel if, now, you also are being asked to donate back to the organization that “steals” your precious few off-hours of family and friends time? There’s a reason why people are very vocal about their opposition to employee-giving programs.

At the same time, the e-book includes a few stories of internal-giving programs done right. No pressure, employees can decide not to give and it won’t be held against them in any way.

As a consultant, I have given back to some of my clients. The truth is that while preparing the e-book, vendor fundraising did come up and I added it as a topic for thought.

However, if I were an employee, would I also be a donor to that organization? Tough one for me to answer.

Why did you decide to write the e-book?

As many things do nowadays, it all started with a tweet. I was curious to hear from my followers whether they donate/d to the nonprofit they work/ed for. My assumption was they did not.

Why would I assume that? Many nonprofit workers are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. The thought of these employees also being givers — forced or not — never even crossed my mind.

Yet, the responses to my tweet surprised me: Most of the respondents were in fact donors to the charity they worked for! Obviously, it’s a big world out there and there are many nonprofiteers who did not answer my original tweet.

That’s how the ball got rolling. A year after that initial tweet I published a survey that aimed to measure attitudes related to employee giving and numerous issues surrounding it. My goal was to use the survey data as a backdrop to an e-book on the topic.

Post survey, I conducted almost 60 follow-up interviews via phone or video chat. Every single person I spoke to had very concrete opinions about the topic. Should employees be asked to donate? Plenty of NO! and plenty of YES! to go around.

Why write the e-book? It is a complicated topic I was interested in exploring and learning more about. Besides a blog post here and there, no one has really looked into it to understand why employees should or should not be asked. I feel my e-book can bring the discussion to nonprofit leaders who can make wiser and more informed decisions when considering an employee-giving program.

What do you hope to accomplish with the e-book?

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December 15, 2020

Listen to The Whiny Donor and Raise More Money

If you want to raise more money, you need to listen to your donors. Unfortunately, many of your donors do not feel comfortable giving you feedback about your fundraising appeals. Or, if they do feel comfortable, they won’t put in the time and effort to tell you what they think.

Fortunately, The Whiny Donor can help you. “The Whiny Donor” is the name of a Twitter account belonging to a woman who, along with her husband, is a significant donor and who has served on a number of nonprofit boards. Whiny is passionately committed to the philanthropy world making her a fantastic resource for fundraising professionals.

“The Whiny Donor”

Whiny lovingly tweets about charity issues, especially what works and what does not when it comes to fundraising. She provides meaningful, often actionable, insights from the perspective of the donor that she is. She’ll give you feedback that your organization’s donors won’t. Also, she’ll answer questions you would never dare to ask your own donors.

Recently, Whiny and her husband went through the year-end appeals that have inundated them. Then, she shared her thoughts in a valuable Twitter thread. With her kind, thoughtful permission, I’m going to share her helpful insights with you now.

Despite the name of her Twitter account, Whiny seldom whines. Instead, she provides insightful critiques, positive and negative. Here are 10 insights about some year-end appeals she has received recently:

COVID-19 Pandemic: Fundraisers should not be afraid to honestly tell prospective donors about the challenges their organization faces. Whiny says, “A couple of the appeals make a very clear case for their need for funds during the pandemic, and we are increasing our donations to them over last year’s amount. I am actually dumbfounded by appeal letters that DON’T mention anything about being affected by the pandemic. Where have you been all year?”

Mission: When a nonprofit organization has a well-articulated mission that is meaningful to donors, missteps will more readily be excused. For example, Whiny says, “There’s one local cultural nonprofit that always sends a reply form  with no appeal letter at all, and I’m so offended by that, I want to cut them off, but my husband insists that we continue to support them.” Whiny had this reaction to another appeal, “We keep donating to them, but I never read the very long, small-print, no-margin, weird-font appeal letter from a small local nonprofit. I simply don’t have the fortitude to tackle it.” Just be aware that, for most organizations, a clear, powerful mission will work best when paired with a well-crafted appeal, particularly one that is easy to read.

Fake Deadlines: Many charities like to use artificial deadlines for giving as a way to create a sense of urgency, especially at year-end. However, donors tend to care little about your deadlines and more about when they want to give. As Whiny says, “I don’t know how long it’s been sitting unopened in my stack of appeals, but one letter mentions a deadline of December 4, which seems weirdly arbitrary. I think they’ll still accept my gift, though. Don’t you?” I suspect they will. So, what’s the point of the fake deadline? Arbitrary deadlines just come off as hucksterism. When a fake deadline is impractical, it can become downright annoying. As Whiny has observed, “Another one I’m just opening, and it says ‘Nov 30 deadline!’ right on the envelope. But the postmark is November 23! C’mon!”

Postage: Unless you’ve tested a postage-paid response envelope versus one requiring a donor to affix a stamp, you should opt for a postage-paid response envelope as your default. You’ll likely get a better response rate. When requiring the donor to affix a stamp, avoid being condescending in the envelope’s postage box. For example, Whiny doesn’t like statements like “Place Stamp Here” or “Postage Stamp Required.” Whiny says, “I do know how to mail an envelope, you know.” A postage-box statement she likes is “Thank You for Your Support.”

Gift-Amount Suggestions: It’s almost always a good idea to suggest how much you would like a prospect to contribute. If you’re asking a past donor, the amount you seek should be related to what the donor has given in the past. In other words, don’t ask a $5,000 donor for $25; conversely, don’t ask a $25 donor for $5,000. When presenting a gift chain, make it legitimate. “The four choices on this gift chain are $250, $260, $265 and $275, which has got to be the narrowest range I’ve ever seen. They had the good sense to add a ‘Surprise Us!’ box, just in case I want to bust loose,” says Whiny. Generally, your gift-chain amounts should vary by more than $5 or $10.

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December 1, 2020

Here’s What You Need to Know about Charitable Giving, 2020-21

This year has been one of great uncertainty and change for everyone, including those of us in the nonprofit sector. As 2020 comes to a close, and we’re poised to begin a new year, I had the opportunity to answer a number of questions from Mary Jane Bobyock, CFA, Managing Director of the Nonprofit Advisory Team, Institutional Group at SEI Institutions. Bobyock says:

One particular area that’s been different in 2020 is how nonprofits raise money. … Michael Rosen graciously answers my questions about the future of fundraising, the latest trends and considerations for fundraising post COVID-19 for 2020 and beyond.”

One of Babyock’s questions concerned Donor Advised Funds:

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) have been steadily increasing as an effective fundraising vehicle but what are your thoughts about ways DAFs could change?”

My response is that DAFs will continue to play a growing role in the nonprofit world.

We will continue to see record in-flows and out-flows involving DAFs. While traditional DAFs have required the contribution of thousands of dollars to create an account, we are now seeing the rising popularity of micro-DAFs that allow even small donors to establish giving accounts with no minimum contribution required for creation. This means, in addition to the increase in money flowing through DAFs, we are seeing an increase in the number of individuals who have created a DAF account.

The CARES Act, adopted by the federal government this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, provides a number of tax incentives for charitable giving that will expire at the end of 2020. Not only will this encourage more donations directly to charitable organizations, it will likely encourage greater in-flows into DAF accounts.

Given the DAF trends, charities should let donors know they accept DAF gifts. For example, an organization might highlight a DAF supporter in a newsletter. Also, the organization’s website should remind donors that they can recommend a contribution through their DAF. While charities will provide a hard-credit for gifts to a DAF’s sponsoring organization, a soft-credit should be made to the individual recommending the gift. You should also thank that person. Later, when appealing to that individual, the charity should remind him that he can recommend another DAF gift.

Another way to encourage supporters to recommend a DAF donation to your organization is to include a DAF widget on your website. The free DAFwidget from MarketSmart makes it easy for individuals to support your organization through their DAF. As MarketSmart says:

You already make it easy for supporters to make donations online using their credit cards, so why not do the same for those with donor-advised funds? DAFwidget makes it simple and convenient to find theirs among over 900 funds in our system.”

When you visit the SEI Knowledge Center, you can read the full article containing my answers to the following questions nonprofit leaders are asking:

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November 17, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett Knows Something You Need to Know

This post has nothing to do with politics or judicial philosophy. Instead, I want to share an important story I heard during the US Senate hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. The hearings ultimately led to her confirmation as Associate Justice to the US Supreme Court with the support of a majority of Americans. That story can help you ensure the happiness of your donors, which could result in better retention and upgraded support.

Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in before the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

Laura Wolk, a former student of Barrett’s at the University of Notre Dame, testified during the final day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Wolk, who is blind, said that she uses adaptive technology and alerted the law school of her needs in advance of her attendance. Unfortunately, the University did not provide the needed accommodations, and Wolk’s own computer was failing. As she struggled to keep up, she grew increasingly frustrated. Not knowing where to turn, she approached Barrett, one of her professors, to ask for assistance navigating the University’s system.

A retinal disease in her infancy caused Wolk’s blindness. By the time she went to law school, she was certainly accustomed to having to be her own advocate. She didn’t expect much from Barrett, but any help would ease her burden. Wolk described Barrett during their meeting:

She sat silently, listening with deep attention as I explained my situation. She exuded calm and compassion, giving me the freedom to let down my guard and come apart.”

Wolk shared what happened when she finished explaining her situation:

‘Laura’, she said, ‘this is no longer your problem. It’s my problem.’” (3:00 minute mark)

Wolk said she expected to be directed to bureaucratic channels. Instead, Barrett made her feel comfortable to share all of her challenges and, then, she solved the problems. Wolk went on to graduate law school, clerked for Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and now has a successful practice.

So, what does this story have to do with fundraising? Plenty!

If a donor comes to you with a question or problem, resist thinking of it as an interruption to your day. Instead, of passing them off to someone else or quickly brushing them aside, take the time to really listen. Don’t offer an automatic, institutional response. As an alternative, offer a warm, compassionate response. If it’s within your power, take on the donor’s issue as your own.

What might this look like?

Imagine you’re at your desk working on the final touches of your fundraising report to the board as your deadline draws near. Your phone rings. You answer, and are greeted by a donor. The donor wants to know how to make a gift of appreciated stock to your organization before the end of the year. Here are some courses of action you could take:

  1. You can put the donor on hold and transfer her to your assistant.
  2. You can direct the donor to your organization’s website where the instructions exist.
  3. You can thank the donor, commiserate about the somewhat complex process, explain the process to the donor and, then, offer to email a summary of the instructions to the donor, perhaps with a link to the appropriate web page as well.

While Option 1 would let you get back to your board report more quickly, which option would make the donor feel most loved? I believe the best course of action is Option 3.

If your donor feels you truly care about him, he will be more likely to care about your organization. He’ll be more likely to renew and upgrade support. Yes, loving your donors takes more time and effort, but it will yield powerful results.

What should you do?

When someone approaches you with a question, challenge, or problem, follow these five steps:

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October 27, 2020

So, Wake Me Up When It’s All Over

There’s a line in the well-known Avicci song that goes, “So, wake me up when it’s all over.” It nicely sums up my feelings about 2020. It’s been a stressful year for us all in so many ways. Yet, despite the strain, I keep seeing articles and webinars full of unfounded optimism, particularly as they relate to fundraising in the post-COVID-19 world. Here are just a small number of the titles I’ve come across:

  • Rebooting and Managing After COVID-19
  • How to Keep Your Donors Once the Crisis Ends
  • Fundraising Predictions for After COVID-19
  • Fundraising Post-COVID-19
  • How Nonprofits Should Approach Grant Makers Post-Covid-19
  • After the Pandemic Fundraising

So, when is this post-COVID-19 time supposed to arrive?

No one knows. However, we do know it’s not going to arrive anytime soon. As I write this, the USA, and much of the world, is experiencing a coronavirus pandemic resurgence following efforts to reopen economies. We still don’t have a vaccine. While there might be a viable vaccine by the end of this year, experts say broad distribution will not be possible until probably the middle of 2021, at best. In the meantime, we still do not have solid, reliable therapeutics to treat the disease.

Even once people are vaccinated and the pandemic is brought under control, economists tell us it will take months, if not years, for the economy to recover. The Federal Reserve says that the jobless rate will remain elevated through 2022. The Congressional Budget Office believes it will take two years for the economy to recover to a pre-pandemic level. Even once things do return to “normal,” we do not know what that new normal will look like. For example, “about 2 in 5 Americans in a nationwide Bankrate survey from May, for instance, said they expect to shop less at traditional in-person retailers.”

While it will take time for the overall economy to recover, it will also take time for individuals to recover from financial as well as other physical and mental health issues made worse during the pandemic. For example, the percentage of individuals experiencing depression doubled even during the early months of the pandemic, according to the US Census Bureau.

So, if the lovely post-COVID-19 world is not going to arrive anytime soon, what should you really be focusing on over the next several months or longer? Here are just a handful of ideas:

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